Podium

A case for a ‘yes’ vote

Pierre Bourgault May 19 1980
Podium

A case for a ‘yes’ vote

Pierre Bourgault May 19 1980

A case for a ‘yes’ vote

Podium

Pierre Bourgault

Of course the question, and consequently the answer, doesn't go as far as I would have wanted it to go. But there's nothing I can do about it. Of course I answered

“yes” to the independence of Quebec years ago. And of course I cannot but answer “yes” to a question asking me for a mandate to negotiate a new entente with Canada based on the definition of sovereignty-association. A lot of people in Quebec, possibly a majority, will answer “yes” too. I suppose they will have many reasons for doing so. But here are some of my reasons.

I consider there to be two nations in Canada and that each one of them should have as much economic, political and cultural independence as possible. English Canada is already independent. French Canada is not.

French Canada cannot become independent because the territory is already occupied by another majority.

But Quebec can become independent, and since a vast majority of French Canadians live in Quebec the province must assume this responsibility for the whole community.

French Canadians form a minority in Canada but they form a majority in Quebec. I don’t like to be part of a minority. I think it’s an uncomfortable situation to be in. Minorities of all kinds never have more rights than those granted by the majorities. And this is the way it has always been and still is for the French minority in Canada. Don’t believe your politicians; they’re lying and we can prove it. And don’t tell me that Canada is nothing but minorities. This is a nice myth but

it isn’t true. We are of many origins but, in the end, we assimilate either to the English majority or to the French minority. There’s no in-between.

We in Quebec live in a ghetto, and we don’t like it. Quebec is the only province in Canada where we can truly live in French, and it took us more than 200 years to win that right. In the rest of Canada—a few small French pockets excepted—it is impossible to live a decent life in French. We also live in a ghetto as far as the world is concerned. As Quebeckers we have the right to communicate directly and as equals with the nine other provinces of Canada. Period. Other independent nations, as small as they can be, can communicate with the rest of the world. I believe we should have the same right. We cannot have it without becoming an independent country.

I want Quebeckers, as a collectivity, to have full powers, just like any other independent people in the world. I believe those powers are particularly necessary to us in our situation. We are completely isolated in English North America, and we must assume our responsibilities without being able to count on somebody else to feed us economically and culturally. The English minority in Quebec can count on 250 million English-speaking North Americans to feed it when it’s in need. We want economic power and economic responsibility. We want all the power. We know

very well that independence wouldn’t solve all problems. But we do want to try solving all we can by ourselves. I believe we can do it. I don’t want to know if I’ll have more or less money in my pocket after the proclamation of independence. I don’t want more money. What I want is to be able to spend it according to our interests, our priorities and aspirations.

I don’t believe in the French power in Ottawa. This is another myth. When a French Canadian is elected prime minister of Canada he’s not elected to serve the interests of Quebec. He’s elected to serve the interests of

elected to serve the interests of Canada. Those interests may coincide sometimes, but we have often seen in the past that they don’t always do so. And then where’s the French power? It is dissolved, serving the interests of the majority of Canadians. We’re not part of that majority. The expression “French power” was invented to scare those English Canadians who tremble at the sight of a French word on a box of cornflakes, and to bring into submission those French Canadians who are naïve enough to believe that a crippled French power in Ottawa is equal to a full French power in Quebec. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau is not less courageous or intelligent than Premier René Lévesque. Mr. Lévesque wouldn’t do better than he. in Ottawa. But both would do much better as prime minister of an independent Quebec because both would have the powers to serve the Quebec community first.

7 want to be master in my own house *

I will vote “yes” because I believe that English Canadians, for whatever reasons they may have, don’t want to be Americans. I believe in the

independence of Quebec for the same reasons they believe in the independence of Canada.

I will vote “yes” because more than three billion people in the world have sought and obtained and cherished their national independence. I would be very much surprised if they were all wrong in wanting to assume their own destiny.

I will vote “yes” because English Canada says “no” to negotiating sovereignty-association. If another collectivity can say “no” to my collectivity when I decide -to say “yes,” then I feel dominated and colonized.

I will vote “yes” because Quebec is the only place in the world I can call home. I want to put a house around my home. And I want to be master in my house.

I’m just reminded that Mr. Trudeau recognized the independence of Zimbabwe last month. In the 12 years he has been in power, Mr. Trudeau has recognized numerous new independent countries. Don’t you find it strange that he should agree with the independence of all nations except his own? Of course Mr. Trudeau doesn’t believe there is a French Canadian nation. But what if a “yes” vote meant exactly that: the birth of a nation?

Montreal columnist and communications professor Pierre Bourgault has been a leading exponent of separatism since the movement’s inception.